Ladders and Nets

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The following statement in a comment from Marshmallow:

… when people propose things like affirmative action to give some down-and-out folks a leg up, it always seems like it's a bunch of white conservatives who stand in the way …

Was posted in a comment, and has inspired the following ...
What tripe. Affirmative action translates into handouts, as often as not. Black conservatives, Asian and Hispanic conservatives, conservatives of all colors reject, government sponsored transfers of wealth (handouts). The issue is not the skin color but philosophy.

Personally, I am all for giving someone a leg up, so long as they do something with the head start. With the rolling out of the 'Great Society' programs under Johnson and Nixon, the government has been singularly unsuccessful when it comes to helping people get out of poverty. The 'New Deal’ of the ‘30s, Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy, was an update of the 'Square Deal’ developed by Theodore Roosevelt at the turn of the 20th century. Both of these programs had far more targeted objectives than the ‘Great Society’ programs of the ‘60s. The earlier programs were safety nets for the poor and unfortunate.

The ‘Great Society’ programs were designed to provide a ladder out of poverty. As such, they were structured differently, and incentives reflected the different dynamic. This nation hurled trillions at the problem of poverty; when money like that is expended, an expanded percentage of poor is not a positive result. The problem with ladders, as opposed to nets, is one must choose to climb the ladder.

Senator Moynahan, (D)-NY, commented 30 years ago on the trend started in the ‘70s, in which even during an economic upswing, the percentage of people on the welfare roles continued to rise. He saw that as a disturbing trend.

What is interesting is that the welfare reform of the ’90s has led to a downward trend in the percentage of people on welfare. This trend continued even during the economic downswing we went through at the beginning of this presidency. Reform thus far appears to have given incentives for people to take a job instead of a handout.

This as an optimal trend, for it is through work, not handouts, that one can truly free oneself from poverty. The old ‘protestant work ethic’ is a better model for defeating poverty than the socialism of the ‘Great Society.’


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Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

"What tripe" please. "handout" There you go with your opinions.

Now, there are a lot of groups who support AA for a lot of different reasons, and there's always going to be some group out there saying, "we should have affirmative action because we want handouts and society owes it to us, etc." That doesn't seem like a very strong argument. But that doesn't mean that there aren't any strong arguments. In the end, I think the good ones outweigh the bad ones.
Let's look at the University of Michigan admissions policy, and some of the reasons given for way it is the way it is.

There is the argument that, since inner city schools are underfunded, you cannot expect students from those schools to perform equally well on entrance exams. The AA policy is intended to give intelligent students from underprivileged communities a fair chance at being admitted.

There is also this idea, based on some studies, that AA programs lead to a less segregated society. the more people are around different ethnic groups when they're young, the more they will surround themselves with members of different groups throughout their lives. Not only will this make society as a whole more cohesive, but it will facilitate the movement of different ideas and diverse perspectives through society, which in the end leads to better solutions to problems.

The University feels that it's in the educational interest of all students for classes to include as many points of view as possible. So the grad school admissions work on a point system, where an applicant gets a score (1-5 or something) in a number of categories. So if you have a high SAT score, you get a 5 in that category, etc. Ethnicity is only one category. What they're really looking for is people with interesting stories. So if your parents were missionaries and you grew up moving back and forth between rural Ghana and New York City, you're going to have a unique perspective in things.

If you are black and grew up in the Harlem, you get the points for being from an poor urban area, and for being a minority. The idea is to put together as diverse a student body as possible, which I believe is a good thing. I'm glad I don't go to a school where everyone is from the same ethno-religious community and 80% of the student body has red hair (eat it, Notre Dame! 47-21, that's right!)

Jack said:


I actually support the right of private schools to discriminate all they want. But not public schools, such as U-of-M. However, that case should have been left to the Michigan S.C., not the USSC. U-of-M should not be getting money from the F.G. (Here we go again.) Because the U.S. Govt is giving money to these universities, they all have to be run by the feds rules, even though that amount is but a small fraction of the total school budget. See how insideous the F.G. is when it doles out money?

Stay Puft, did you e-mail me from a fake e-mail address last night? You realize, of course, that does not allow a reply.

I tried sending to that s.p. whatever address but may have it wrong. Please write again from a real address if you wanted a reply.

Sorry for not commenting on any of the topics at hand but I mostly have to be away from the computer today, maybe will be on late tonight (as usual).

Jack said:


You said, "There is the argument that, since inner city schools are underfunded, you cannot expect students from those schools to perform equally well on entrance exams."

In VA, the cities spent more ($7,415) in 1999-2000 than the state average ($6,985). Richmond spent over $8,000, and Alexandria spent over $10,000. How is that underfunded?

Arlington Co. spent $11,697 per pupil in 1999-2000, and has a graduation rate of 77.6%. Fairfax spent $8,657 for an 82.5% graduation rate, and Loudoun spent $7,137 for a 94.5%(!!) graduation rate. Tell me again how more money makes for a better education.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

As far as the UM admission policy, according to the supreme court the university IS operating within the federal laws.

when you say,

"I actually support the right of private schools to discriminate all they want. But not public schools, such as U-of-M. However, that case should have been left to the Michigan S.C., not the USSC. U-of-M should not be getting money from the F.G."

you seem to be saying two things:

1. that if the FG gives money, it should attach "strings"
2. fed. funding is no good because it has "strings"

there seems to be a contradiction or some sort of problem with the logic here. The assumption is that the FG HAS to attach strings, and that since strings are bad, the logical conclusion is that the FG shouldn't fund anything. I feel like the argument is weak because it relies on the "mandatory strings" assumtion.

as far as underfunded urban schools, I guess I was thinking more in terms of Grand Rapids, Flint, and Detroit. All these cities have had funding troubles, and have had to close schools, lay off teachers, and cut programs. Detroit is slated to close 110 schools by 2009.

How does money make education better? How do you think money makes education better?! text-books don't grow on trees.

what were we talking about?

Affirmative Action... not perfect, but more good than bad, I say

Jack said:


I'm sorry if I was unclear.

1) If the fed gives money, it DOES, not "should," attach strings.

2) Correct.

Detroit, F.Y. 1998, spent $7,326 per pupil, vs. an average of $5,949 for the 100 largest school districts in the U.S. It sounds like mismanagement, not lack of money.

(Grand Rapids and Flint are not in the top 100, but I suspect the same.)

Textbooks for high school might be $300-$500 per year, if they were all bought new. However, the school systems use the same books for several years. Books for the lower grades cost less. (There are fewer to buy per student.)

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

I think we're in the wrong thread. I'm going to reply to you in the other thread re: edu. funding.

Jack said:

We did seem to cross threads there.

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